By Ronald Hanaki
Last spring, ESU’s baseball team capped off a tremendous season finishing as the 2015 PSAC Baseball Tournament runner-up. Arguably one of the big reasons why the Warriors had such a successful season was standout pitcher and outfielder Ian Allen.
Back on March 8, Allen threw a no-hitter and notched 12 strikeouts in an 11-0 win against Virginia State. It was ESU’s first no-hitter since Jeremy Gigliotti did it against Mansfield in 2011.
“I’m very happy about the no-hitter, but I’m never satisfied. There is always room for improvement,” says Allen.
Describing what worked so well for him that game, Allen replies, “My curveball was working for me.”
He is also quick to credit his teammates. “The team played great defense and made every play. We had good pitcher-catcher connection. It was just one of those days where everything clicked,” says Allen.
Head coach of ESU’s baseball program Coach Kochmansky says, “Allen had everything going. He was throwing hard, and his secondary stuff was pretty sharp. It was also relatively early in the year.”
Generally, the pitchers are ahead of the hitters at the beginning of the baseball season. However, it turns out that there was some behind-the-scenes drama going on in the dugout.
Coach Kochmansky says, “I was going to take him out based on him getting to the fifth or sixth inning because he had surpassed his pitch count for the day. But his teammates talked me out of it.”
Somewhat sheepishly, Coach Kochmansky says, “I agreed with them, and he finished with a no-hitter.”
After the game, Allen even thanks his teammates for allowing him to finish the game.
The 6′ 5” Allen hails from East Aurora, a town in western N.Y. near Buffalo, and has played sports his whole life.
Described as a natural born slugger, Allen was a highly touted prospect in high school. Allen credits an overnight stay at ESU for sealing his decision to commit to the university. During a visit, he even got to meet ESU baseball legend Chris Knott.
Allen praises Coach Kochmansky for helping him develop as a baseball player. “He’s one of the main reasons why I came here. I wouldn’t want to have any other coach here.”
“He makes sure we get our stuff done,” adds Allen. “He gives us a good chance to win. He turns this into a really good program – not just a team.”
“I have no regrets coming to ESU. I wouldn’t want [to be] any other place,” says Allen.
Allen can be described as the classic 5-tool player. “He pitches and hits,” says Coach Kochmansky. “We don’t restrict him. He is here to be a dual guy.”
Coach Kochmansky adds, “Ian is our best baserunner. He stole 23 out of 25 bases last year.”
“He runs a 6.5 60 (yards). That’s flying,” explains Coach Kochmansky.
The coach continues to wax rhapsodic. “Allen is the epitome of the student-athlete that you want at ESU. He is an excellent student, a great baseball player, and a great person. He is the ultimate team guy,” says Coach Kochmansky.
Allen gets it done in the classroom as well. He is an applied mathematics major with a finance concentration. Explaining why he chose math as his major, Allen says, “I’m good at math and thought it clicked. I want to do something with math and business.”
Of balancing schoolwork and athletics, Allen says, “We have been doing it our whole life. I don’t know what we would do without it. The coaches make sure we’re on top of our schoolwork, and so it’s not too hard.”
As for life after ESU, Allen says, “I haven’t thought about it too much, but it would be cool if I could turn pro.”
Allen names the Boston Red Sox as his favorite baseball team, and Jon Lester takes the title of his favorite baseball player. Lester and Allen both pitch left-handed.
As for last season, the Warriors’ hopes for making the postseason PSAC tournament came down to their final doubleheader against Bloomsburg.
Allen says, “There was no doubt that we were going to make the tournament. We treated it as a normal game. We knew we were going to win.”
ESU beat Bloomsburg 5-3 in the first game of the doubleheader to qualify for the postseason PSAC tournament.
The Warriors continued their clutch play by beating Mercyhurst 18-11 in a slugfest to win the first game of the tournament.
“Mercyhurst was the top team in the PSAC West. They have a great pitching staff,” says Coach Kochmansky.
He had a plan to beat Mercyhurst. “Our goal was to score on them early because they normally get an early lead and outpitch you. We came in swinging the bats and scored runs.”
In the second game of the tournament, the Warriors erupted for 18 hits on their way to crushing Slippery Rock 13-4.
Coach Kochmansky says, “We outhit them. (Pitcher Tyler) Eckman threw a gem of the game. Eckman threw a complete game, and we scored double digits in that game.”
ESU played games three and four against top-ranked Seton Hill. Coach Kochmansky says, “We played well in the first game, but lost 6-2. We came back the next day and beat them.”
“They [Seton Hill] had more experience than we had. They beat us the first game. We came back knowing that we had to beat them, and we did so,” says Allen.
“Everyone made big hits and scored runs,” he continues. “We never thought that we were the underdogs. We were on top of the world then.”
The win enabled ESU to play Millersville for the PSAC championship. Recalling the game, Allen says, “We ran out of gas in the championship game. But there are no excuses. All credit to Millersville because they are a good team, but we could have pulled it off definitely.”
Of course, now that Allen has a taste of the championship, he wants more.
Allen says, “We want to win it all next season. We want to win the PSAC and regionals and get to the World Series. We are not satisfied with just the regionals, but we want to go to the World Series.”
Right now, Allen and the baseball team are in the middle of their fall off-season program.
Coach Kochmansky says, “We are doing weight training and practicing under the direction of Dr. Miltenberger from the exercise science department.”
So, what can fans expect of ESU’s baseball team next season?
“The majority of the team will be back next season,” says Coach Kochmansky. “But in the PSAC East, it’s so tough that if you don’t play well, it doesn’t matter what kind of talent you have. You’re not going to get there.”
He continues, “If the guys go about their business in the right fashion, and they spend time in the weight room and continue to get better, we will have a chance to get back to the tournament again.”
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